Socio-demographic factors influence costs of back pain

Jun 17, 2008

It is well-known that back pain belongs to the most frequent health problems in the industrial nations and, it is also well-known that it is the cause of considerable costs for health insurance schemes and the economy. In the period of just one year, 70 % of adult Germans suffer from back pain.

Together with scientists from the Institute for Community Medicine of the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität in Greifswald, Christina Wenig and Bernd Schweikert of the Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management of the Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health have now scrutinized socio-demographic variables of patients as potential cost-influencing parameters.

For the first time, in a German so-called "Bottom-up study", scientists examined how gender, age, education and marital status might possibly affect the costs caused by back pain. The advantage of this method is that the most important components of costs were able to be identified, and also variability and distribution of costs could be explained. 9,267 Germans were included in questioning by the German Back Pain Research Network (GBPRN); the result was extrapolated to the whole population aged 18 to 75. The results were accepted for publication in the European Journal of Pain.

The team found out that on average a cost of € 1,322 per patient per annum was caused by back pain. Direct costs, namely expenses, which originated out of treating the pain, were 46 %. Correspondingly, indirect costs, namely losses of production, stood at about 54 %. The highest costs occurred at the age of 50. Among patients who claimed benefits, social circumstances such as unemployment, low education and living alone also appeared to increase costs. The researchers found the clearest correlation between pain grade and costs. Altogether the researchers estimated the costs caused by back pain in Germany at € 48.9 billion that is 2.2 % of the German Gross Domestic Product. Expenses caused by prevention or therapy measures represented a share in of 9.7 %. Patients had also often to pay out of their own pocket.

The study results suggest that effective prevention programs can lower expenses both in the private and public sectors. In addition, the knowledge can help to direct main focuses of research as well as to use the budget sensibly for innovative medical strategies.

Source: German Research Center for Environmental Health

Explore further: Suboptimal prescribing attitudes could signal personal distress

Related Stories

US govt sued over sea turtles snared in shrimp nets

1 hour ago

Tens of thousands of endangered sea turtles die every year in the United States when they are inadvertently snared in shrimp nets, an environmental group alleges, filing a lawsuit Wednesday against the government.

EU alleges Google's abuses hurt consumers, innovation

1 hour ago

The European Union's escalating legal attack on Google is likely to ignite a debate about whether the Internet search leader makes life more convenient for consumers or abuses its power to squeeze out rivals ...

Space open for business, says Electron launch system CEO

1 hour ago

Space, like business, is all about time and money, said Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, a US company with a New Zealand subsidiary. The problem, he added, is that, in cost and time, space has remained an incredibly ...

EU action on Google marks divergence with Washington

1 hour ago

The EU antitrust complaint filed Wednesday against Google represents a sharp divergence with Washington, which dropped a similar investigation two years ago, citing a lack of evidence against the Internet ...

Recommended for you

Selecting the right tool for the job

Apr 14, 2015

Randomized clinical trials of new drugs have long been considered the "gold standard" in determining safety and efficacy before drugs, biologics, vaccines or devices are introduced to the general public. However, in the case ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.